Since knocking out Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 back in Oct. 2011, Anthony Pettis has competed only twice.
"Showtime" defeated Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6 in Jan. 2013 and then submitted Ben Henderson seven months later at UFC 164 to capture the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title.
Nine months later, and Pettis has yet to defend his 155-pound title for the first time. The inactivity, however, isn't by choice, but rather a string of injures (like this one) that have prevented Pettis from seeing more action inside the Octagon.
Some things, you just can't help.
Nonetheless, inactivity hasn't stopped people from praising Pettis, including UFC President Dana White, who said during the UFC Fight Night 40 media scrum (video) that "Showtime" can be the next big star in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Barring any further injures, of course.
His words (transcribed via Bloody Elbow):
"Pettis is such a badass - unbelievably talented fighter. I love his attitude. I love everything about that kid, and it is truly an honor to watch that kid perform. The running off the cage, the bouncing off the cage and the knee to ‘Cowboy' Cerrone, (he) beats Ben Henderson in the first round when Ben Henderson fought the who's who in that division and they all went to decisions."
One person who seems to have taken Pettis' inactivity to heart is Nate Diaz, who clowned "Showtime" and his "silly ass suits" for sitting on the sidelines and playing "Hollywood" on the UFC pre-fight shows instead of fighting.
Despite the most recent setback he suffered during his win over "Smooth" last August, Pettis is now cleared to resume training on the heels of successful knee surgery in Dec. 2012.
The news comes at a perfect time for Pettis, who is scheduled to face Gilbert Melendez at the end of the year after the two complete their roles as coaches The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20.
He's got the look and the talent to become MMA's next big star -- and perhaps fill this void. Now all "Showtime" needs to do is keep on winning and remain injury free.
Another big star, apparently, just might be what UFC needs at the moment